The Existence of Evil

By: Jim O'Brien 

Hi Friend,

The first home Donna and I purchased was built by a contractor who was Jewish. He and I had several conversations-often about God. He told me about his aunt who was imprisoned with her parents during the Holocaust. All of her immediate family had been killed in the ovens of the concentration camp. His aunt rejected a belief in God saying that "Such evil could not exist if there was a good God."

Of all the enigmas man faces one of the most perplexing is the question of the existence of evil. Man has the proclivity to blame God for bad things while refusing to acknowledge the reality of Satan. The goodness of God is so evident-but evil is equally obvious, so why is it so hard to recognize that both good and evil exist in the spirit realm?

There is a rational explanation for the existence of odious men like Adolph Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, but how do we explain the dangers inherent in nature itself. Why did a loving God create tornadoes, hurricanes and blazing deserts-or poisonous animals?

Koala bears look cuddly, but they are neither bears nor cuddly. Teddy bears, created in the image of the sometimes vicious Koala, are warm and fuzzy toys for children. Why didn't God make the real Koala like that?

Or did he?

Is it possible that the Koala was created to be a huggable child's pet? If so, what happened to change it?

One of the mistakes readers of the Bible make is to spiritualize away the literal prophecies made by Isaiah. He made fascinating predictions of a time when the Messiah will rule the world-meaning He has limited rule now. Isaiah saw a time in the future when a child will lead a lion-today's mom would die of fright if her toddler walked into the yard with tiny hands clasped to the mane of such a beast. Another child will play with snakes and not be hurt. All these things and more will happen at a time in the future-on earth, not in heaven (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25). God gave these visions to His Prophet, so one wonders, "Why not now?" If the world will see these wonderful things happen in the future-and there is good reason to believe they happened in the past-what is different about today? Any reasonable person should ask, "Has something happened to corrupt creation?"

If the desert was created to blossom like a rose, why is it an arid wasteland of barren concrete now? On the day God finished creating the earth, He pronounced it good. Hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and predatory animals are not good. What happened?

Who corrupted the environment and the nature of animals?

When Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles, he said Jesus must stay in heaven until the "restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21 NKJV). Restoration is an interesting word-especially in the context of the return of Jesus. It means something existed in the past and was lost.

But the biggest loss was the innocence of man. When the first two humans were placed on the earth, they were pure and innocent. Someone influenced them and the world has never been the same.

There have always been evil influences. There are forms of government that incline toward man's baser instincts. After World War II many people wondered how otherwise kind and generous neighbors could become Nazi officers who committed heinous crimes against innocent neighbors and children. When evil men centralize power into authoritative governments, the possibility of evil is almost limitless. When it happened at the Tower of Babel, "...the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do" (Genesis 11:6).

The sad fact is that most humans can be influenced to do evil things. Once when a community rejected Jesus, his disciples were angered. James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy the village, but Jesus chastised them saying, "You don't know what spirit you are of" (Luke 9:55).

There is a spirit of evil influence. John writes in the Book of Revelation that this evil being has "deceived the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). Paul warns that we "do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). These are powerful words of warning, but there is also a sure hope. One day these evil forces will be subdued.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati

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